Cover your tracks

How to hide your online history

It’s very difficult to completely hide your online history. If you don’t want someone you live with to check your online history, don’t use the internet at home. You’ll need to go online at a library, at work, in a friend’s house or in an internet café.

How an abuser can check your online history

When you visit websites, the internet browser saves information about what you do online. If the abuser uses the same computer as you, they can check:

  • images you’ve seen on websites
  • your word searches
  • online history listing all the websites you visited.

When you’ve finished online, it’s important to clear your browsing history to prevent an abuser seeing your online activity.

If the abuser installs a spyware programme on a home computer or your mobile telephone, they can track what you do online. The programme collects your data including:

  • log in email address
  • passwords
  • websites visited

How to clear your browsing history

All browsers have a ‘history’ or ‘favourites’ tab that list all the online pages visited. Each browser has a different way to clear the online history. If you don’t know how to remove your browsing history, search for instructions.

You can delete individual websites but this might not delete passwords or cookies. On Firefox and Chrome browsers, you can remove your online history for the last hour or two hours. This removes selected online history but not all the browsing history.

Using private browsing mode online

If you select private browsing mode, the browser won’t list your online activity. If you don’t know how to switch on private browsing, search for instructions.

Each time you go online, make sure private browsing is still enabled.

When you delete your online history

If you delete the history on a computer the abuser also uses, they might notice the history has been cleared. If they bank online with a saved password and you clear the online cookies, their saved password will be lost. They might realise you’ve deleted the online history and become suspicious. 

Saved passwords

If you allow the browser to store your passwords to save time, another person can use your passwords to open your accounts. When you use a password for the first time on a website:

  • don’t allow the browser to store your password
  • browse in private mode

If you allow the browser to save your password accidentally, you can delete a saved password:

  • by clearing all or some online history
  • separately on the browser

Online search history

Browser toolbars record your search words. To remove all the search words you typed, check the instructions for each toolbar. Google, Chrome and AOL browsers have different methods for removing search words.  If you use Google toolbar, click the Google icon in the top right of the screen and select ‘Clear search history’.

Exit a website

Some advice and support organisations keep an exit button on all their web pages. An exit button links to information unrelated to the page you're reading. By clicking an exit button, you leave a website and link to unrelated information such as weather or traffic news. The exit button also hides your online history.